The Grand Festival of Chariots, or Rath Yatra, is one of the most significant festivals in India. It celebrates Lord Jagannatha and his siblings, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, visiting mortals to bless them while riding their chariots.

Rath Yatra is reminiscent of Lord Krishna’s return to Vrindavan, his eternal spiritual abode. Using a chariot in public processions is a common ancient tradition in many Asian cultures, symbolizing the act of pulling divinity into one’s heart.

Keep reading along with Wego to learn more about Rath Yatra in 2025 and how it is celebrated in Odisha. 

Rath Yatra 2025 dates & timings

The Ratha Yatra takes place on the second day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month, Ashadha, that is late June or July of the Gregorian solar calendar. In ancient Hindu scriptures, this day is written as “Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya,” that is, the Dwitiya Tithi (second tithi) during Shukla Paksha of the Ashada month.

For the year 2025, Rath Yatra is going to be celebrated on Friday 27 June.  The Dwitiya tithi begins at 1:24 PM on 26 June 2025 and ends at 11:19 AM on 27 June  2025. 

For the year 2024, Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya falls on Sunday 7 July. Please refer to our dedicated Rath Yatra 2024 article for more information.

Rath Yatra 2024: When and How Is It Celebrated?

 

How is Rath Yatra celebrated in Odisha?

In Hindu mythology, a singular deity can manifest in various forms. During the Rath Yatra celebrations, it is the form of Lord Krishna, known as Lord Jagannatha, which translates to “Lord of the universe,” that participates in the festivities.

Lord Jagannatha is accompanied by his elder brother, Balabhadra, and younger sister, Subhadra, forming a divine triad.

For the Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannatha, along with Balabhadra and Subhadra, sits in three massive wooden chariots. A bevy of devotees pulls these chariots across the grand avenue to Gundicha Temple, where they reside for a week before returning to the Jagannath temple.

The return trip is referred to as the Bahuda Yatra. 

The festival is celebrated all over the country but is mostly connected with the coastal city of Puri in the state of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa).  

The Puri Rath Yatra route 

Starting point 

The main Rath Yatra route in Puri begins at the Jagannath Temple, one of the four major ‘Char Dham’ religious destinations.

The deities, in their mighty chariots, travel along Grand Avenue, also known as Bada Danda. This main road connects the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple.

Bada Danda is about 3 km from Sri Mandira. You can imagine this avenue as a massive stick hypothetically connecting the primary temples of Lord Jagannath.

The stops in between 

The chariot stops at two different places where devotees gather to see the deities and offer them food.  

  • Mausima Temple: The chariot first stops at the Mausima Temple. The Mausima Temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath’s aunt. Here, the deities are offered a special rice cake called Poda Pitha, a sweet made from rice, jaggery, and coconut.
  •  Balagandi: The last significant step before the chariots reaches Gundicha Temple is Balagandi. Devotees gather here to see the deities and worship them.

Final destination

The final destination is Gundicha Temple. 

The Gundicha Temple is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Jagannath. The chariot stays here for seven days before returning to the Jagannath Temple. 

Puri Rath Yatra festivities

The Grand Chariot Festival consists of various other rituals that are conducted before the chariot sets out on its journey with the picture of the deities. 

The set of rituals that are conducted before the chariot sets out on its journey on the “second day of a bright fortnight in the month of Asadha” starts several days ahead of the grand journey on the Magha Saptami. On this day, trees are cut down in the nearby and distant areas to provide wood for the construction of the grand chariots. 

On the third day of the bright fortnight of Baisakh, during Akshaya Trutiya, the construction work of the chariots begins 58 days before the yatra on the Grand Road of Puri. 

The entire cycle that follows prior to the Rath Yatra includes the following:

The Bathing Festival or Snana Yatra 

On the day of the Full Moon in the Hindu Lunar month Jyestha, the three deities are moved to a bathing platform known as the “snanavedi” in a colorful procession. 

On the bathing platform, the deities are doused or bathed in 118 pitchers of perfumed or herbal and aromatic water (the water is drawn from a temple well only once a year). After the ritual, it is believed that the deities assume a special elephant form known as the Hati Vesha. 

In 2025, the Full Moon when this Snana Yatra is going to take place falls on 11 June. 

Anasara

After the bathing ritual, the deities are believed to fall sick.

They are believed to rest and nurse their health for 15 days. During this time, they do not return to their pedestal and stay away from the public eye. This is known as Anasara. 

In reality, this time period is used to apply fresh coats of paint to the deities that are washed out during the snana yatra. 

Naba Jaubana Darsana

The deities appear with their regenerated youth after 15 days on the day of the New Moon in the Hindu lunar month of Asadha. This is known as Nabayaubana Vesha. 

On this day, the deities are open for public viewing again. They appear refreshed, almost as if they have received a dose of rejuvenating glow. 

Pahandi

Finally, the time for the grand chariot festival or the Rath Yatra arrives. The grand procession of devotees carrying the iconic chariot from the Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple is known as Pahandi. 

The chariot is hand-pulled by devotees, and it is a colorful spectacle to behold. The ones who pull the chariot are known as Daitapatis. 

The first deity in order of the procession is the Chariot of Lord Balabhadra, followed by the chariot of Devi Subhadra and finally, Lord Jagannath’s chariot arrives. 

Generally, the deities arrive at the Gundicha temple on the same evening. They enter the temple the next day in the usual Pahandi style and stay there for seven days.

Bahuda Yatra

After seven days, the deities begin their journey back home to the Jagannath Temple, known as the Bahuda Yatra. The return journey is similar to the one the arrival procession. 

Bada Ekadasi

The day after, the deities stop at Mausima Temple for Lord Jagannath’s favorite rice cake, which is known as Bada Ekadasi.

On this day, the deities are donned in gold costumes to take another form known as the Suna Vesha. Thousands of devotees worship the deities at Mausima Temple on that day.

One day after Ekadasi, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra return to their temple with the usual fanfare in the Pahandi Style. With that concludes the Rath Yatra or the grand festival of the Chariots.

The date for Bada Ekadasi of 2025 has not been announced yet. Please note that we will update you as soon as more information is available. 

 

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